NEWS14 November 2017

Insights into young people’s anger

Behavioural economics News Trends UK

UK – The majority of young people assume others think negatively of them, according to research from market research agency House51 and advertising agency BMB into anger among the UK population.

Anger_angry woman_crop

The research found that 60% of respondents said they had been angry at least once in the last week, and 21% said they had been angry on the day of the survey.

Over a third ( 37%) agreed that other people are angrier, while a fifth ( 21%) said they are personally angrier, than a year ago.

The reasons for anger ranged from everyday frustrations to anger around Brexit and the way the country is run.

The survey of 1,050 UK adults, in conjunction with YouGov Omnibus and in partnership with The Drum, also found that young people aged 18- to 24-years-old are the angriest cohort. Within this age group, two-thirds ( 74%) said they had been angry in the week before the survey, and 41% admitted feeling angry on the day they were surveyed.

However, this group is also more susceptible to cognitive bias such as ‘catastrophising’ – the research found that 69% of young people assume others think negatively of them, and 60% said they tend to dwell on the negatives in a situation.

The report found that UK adults are equally angry about something that has affected them personally ( 47%) and something that has affected someone else ( 45%), while a third ( 34%) said that when they last got angry, they wanted to help someone.

This pro-social anger (anger on behalf of other groups of people in society) declines with age – those aged 18- to 24-years-old were most likely to experience pro-social anger on behalf of groups such as immigrants, the unemployed, Muslims and women. For those aged 55 and over, however, a third ( 33%) said they felt no anger on behalf of any of the groups.

The survey also asked people to respond to the universal values framework, finding that those adults who said they had experienced anger in the past week are more driven by values of universalism, benevolence and self-direction, than those who are not angry. 

Speaking at an event held by the Cultural Insights Forum, Ian Murray, founder, House51, said: "We often find ourselves in quite a binary or simplistic understanding of emotions, where happiness is good, and anger is bad. 

"While there undoubtedly is toxic anger out there – you just have to open a newspaper, turn on the TV or go on Twitter and the toxicity is all there to see – it’s a more nuanced picture than that. If we don't embrace nuances around emotion, and anger in particular, we're missing a trick."